TOPEKA — The House agriculture budget committee recommended Wednesday the state of Kansas invest $250,000 in a pilot project to fight disease in the beef industry by tracking individual cattle through the production system.
The animal ID traceability system would be a public-private partnership designed to better equip the beef industry to manage disease outbreaks and build confidence in Kansas meat products, said Jackie McClaskey, secretary of the state Department of Agriculture.
Matt Teagarden, chief executive officer of the Kansas Livestock Association, said the organization’s membership was keen to move ahead with the cattle tracking initiative. In December, KLA voted to support a mandatory national individual animal ID disease system for all cattle.
“Every segment of the beef industry can be found in Kansas,” he said. “That also means much is at risk.”
The Kansas pilot project could cost $1.5 million to $2 million, with at least $500,000 from the state.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget Committee also voted to earmark $75,000 in state funding to sustain the third small-animal facility field inspector in the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, proposed the additional spending given the importance of holding to high standards the Kansas facilities that produce or care for dogs and cats.
Absence of a meaningful inspection force for small-animal operations could place the state in jeopardy of missing bad actors, said Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence.
“You’re not going to get out and find the puppy mills that give Kansas a bad reputation,” Sloan said.
Left unresolved by the budget committee were questions about raising fees charged small-animal facilities.
In the 2017 legislative session, the House and Senate fought to a draw fees assessed on those operating in the pet-animal industry. The state Department of Agriculture has sought for years to boost fees on animal breeders and shelters to pay a greater share of the cost for inspecting those facilities.
Kansas has about 2,300 animal shelter, rescue or foster-care facilities and about 300 licensed breeders.